Why I Joined DSA: To Agitate the Agitators
by Glen Miles
So it all started when my partner and I went to a town hall for the Green New Deal hosted by Detroit DSA and The Sunrise Movement at the start of 2019. Our—at the time—recently elected Congress woman Rashida Tlaib opened the event and we got to hear some dope speakers who weren’t afraid to talk about the cruelty of capitalism while simultaneously embracing socialism as a viable alternative economic system. I was impressed, but even then it would be several months into the year before I would fully form my thoughts around joining a political organization and engaging with these types of groups. Life went on and things continued to spiral out of control globally, I don’t have
to recap the calamities some of us were lucky enough to live through, if you’re reading this most likely you were there.
The social cohesion of the past decade or so has become so tenuous that
metaphorically what binds us has become akin to rubber bands and bubble gum. And ever since the 2016 election societies trajectory has seemed to be accelerating towards destruction. But as the saying goes, every action, has an equal and opposite reaction, a movement was building utilizing the energy that swept through the nation and behind the sails of Bernie Sanders.
Eventually a call to action was made to come out for a strike coinciding with the demand for a Green New Deal. We went out into the streets and joined the people for a demonstration which in hindsight proved to be the actuating momentum to get me re-invigorated in getting involved with political movements. The last time I had mobilized behind a cause like this being during the Occupy Wall Street days where I took part in some of the demonstrations going on in the San Francisco bay area.
A few weeks later, I walked through the doors of my first general meeting. We were greeted fondly, but it was initially jarring to see that the demographics of the organization didn’t seem to resemble the demographics of the city in which it was embedded. The second thing to strike me was the emphasis on utilizing the chapters membership on aims surrounding electoralism, whether it was a push to get DSA members into local municipal offices or knocking doors to inform people to vote for Bernie Sanders in the upcoming presidential election. I understood the motive, but this to me felt tame and at the time ineffectual, but I pressed on because I saw the potential that could be tapped into with the right people helping to push the group new directions.
I volunteered some of my time to canvassing and went and met the people where they were at. After a few conversations with folks on the ground and getting to know what people stand for throughout our cities I slowly began to appreciate the approach more than I did before, but it still wasn’t enough for me. It finally came down to that famous quote of being the change that you want to see in the world and I knew that I was there to agitate the agitators.
Now, with primary season well under way I’ve spent the last few months positioning myself to get involved more with the decision making process and lending my insights on the ways in which we can engage the public. I’ve stepped into leadership positions around the development of the chapters media projects and have helped to build a strong black & brown alliance alongside my fellow comrades of color. Through growing relationships we’ve pushed the Detroit DSA towards building a solid coalition with grassroots and frontline community based movements and the potential for change has
never seemed closer to being realized.
And even now it’s still just the beginning.
I say all this hopefully to make it clear that DSA is not a perfect organization, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s an organization that represents its membership and it’s malleable to change if you’re willing to put in the time and energy to make your vision of change clear. But you also have to be malleable to change, and willing to take your time to truly build relationships, we’re not going to win the world over night. I still have a long way to go to achieve the vision that I would like to see be apart of our collective futures, and the homies at DSA are helping me build out the path to that future.
I came into this group less than six months ago and in a lot of ways it’s already changed my life, but more importantly I believe my participation has really helped to change the group for the better.
That’s why I joined DSA and your participation can do the same, come join us and help us grow so we can build a new world in the shell of the old.